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Open access

Ravneet K. Sandhu, Laura E. Reuss, and Nathan S. Boyd

Sulfentrazone was recently registered for use in tomato and strawberry in Florida. Field experiments were conducted at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, FL, to evaluate PRE sulfentrazone applications when applied on flat soil 30 days before bed formation (PRE-f), on the bed top immediately before laying plastic mulch (PRE-t), applied PRE-t as a tank mix with other PRE herbicides, or PRE-t followed by POST halosulfuron or rimusulfuron (POST). Sulfentrazone did not damage the tomato and strawberry crop and had no effect on strawberry and tomato fruit yield. It was as effective as the industry standards but none of the evaluated herbicide treatments provided adequate weed control. POST halosulfuron in tomato resulted in significantly greater nutsedge control at 11 (14%) and 13 (27%) weeks after initial treatment (WAIT) compared with other treatments in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, respectively. However, in tomato, tank-mixing sulfentrazone with S-metolachlor or metribuzin did not enhance nutsedge control. Weed control did not improve with increased rates or with the use of PRE-f followed by (fb) PRE-t applications in tomato. PRE-t sulfentrazone fb POST halosulfuron was an efficient nutsedge management option in tomato. Sulfentrazone alone did not effectively control weeds in tomato or strawberry. Increased rates of sulfentrazone with the use of PRE-f fb PRE-t sulfentrazone applications did reduce (34%) total weed density in strawberry.

Open access

Elizabeth A. Perkus, Julie M. Grossman, Anne Pfeiffer, Mary A. Rogers, and Carl J. Rosen

High tunnels are an important season extension tool for horticultural production in cold climates, however maintaining soil health in these intensively managed spaces is challenging. Cover crops are an attractive management tool to address issues such as decreased organic matter, degraded soil structure, increased salinity, and high nitrogen needs. We explored the effect of winter cover crops on soil nutrients, soil health and bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) crop yield in high tunnels for 2 years in three locations across Minnesota. Cover crop treatments included red clover (Trifolium pratense) monoculture, Austrian winter pea/winter rye biculture (Pisum sativum/Secale cereale), hairy vetch/winter rye/tillage radish (Vicia villosa/S. cereale/Raphanus sativus) polyculture, and a bare-ground, weeded control. Cover crop treatments were seeded in two planting date treatments: early planted treatments were seeded into a standing bell pepper crop in late Aug/early September and late planted treatments were seeded after bell peppers were removed in mid-September At termination time in early May, all cover crops had successfully overwintered and produced biomass in three Minnesota locations except for Austrian winter pea at the coldest location, zone 3b. Data collected include cover crop and weed biomass, biomass carbon and nitrogen, extractable soil nitrogen, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, microbial biomass carbon, permanganate oxidizable carbon, soil pH, soluble salts (EC), and pepper yield. Despite poor legume performance, increases in extractable soil nitrogen and potentially mineralizable nitrogen in the weeks following cover crop residue incorporation were observed. Biomass nitrogen contributions averaged 100 kg·ha−1 N with an observed high of 365 kg·ha−1 N. Cover crops also reduced extractable soil N in a spring sampling relative to the bare ground control, suggesting provision of nitrogen retention ecosystem services.

Open access

Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, Haijie Dou, Christina Perez, and Lisa Alexander

Hydrangeas are popular landscape plants that are widely grown in many parts of the world. The objective of this study was to evaluate the salinity tolerance of three novel Dichroa ×hydrangea hybrids [Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yamaguchi Hardy’ × Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hamburg’ (YH × Hamburg), Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yellow Wings’ ×Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nigra’ (YW × Nigra), and Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yellow Wings’ ×Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Oakhill’ (YW × Oakhill)]. A 52-day greenhouse study was conducted by irrigating container-grown plants with nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.1 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 (EC 5) or 10.0 dS·m−1 (EC 10). At harvest, YH × Hamburg and YW × Nigra in EC 5 and EC 10 still exhibited good quality with average visual scores greater than 4.1 (0 = dead; 5 = excellent). For YW × Oakhill, moderate foliar salt damage was observed with an average visual score of 2.9 in EC 5 and 2.2 in EC 10. Compared with control, the shoot dry weight of YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill in EC 5 reduced by 35%, 35%, and 55%, respectively, whereas that in EC 10 decreased by 58%, 58%, and 67%, respectively. Elevated salinity also decreased plant height, leaf area, and leaf greenness [Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD) readings]; chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm); performance index (PI); and net photosynthetic rate (Pn). All these responses might result from excess accumulation of sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) ions in hydrangea leaves. In this study, compared with control, leaf Na+ concentration of YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill increased 11, 36, and 14 times, respectively, in EC 5, and 31, 53, and 18 times, respectively, in EC 10. Compared with control, leaf Cl concentration increased 4, 9, and 7 times in EC 5, and 10, 11, and 8 times in EC 10 for YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill, respectively. Leaf nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K+), and iron (Fe3+) concentrations decreased at elevated salinity levels but did not cause any nutrient deficiency. In summary, the three Dichroa ×hydrangea hybrids exhibited different salinity tolerance: YH × Hamburg and YW × Nigra were more tolerant than YW × Oakhill. Salt-tolerant hydrangea hybrids should be chosen for landscape use if soil and/or irrigation water are salty.

Open access

Rachel A. Itle, Eileen A. Kabelka, and James W. Olmstead

Carotenoids serve as protective antioxidants, and function in normal vision, bone growth, cell division and differentiation, and reproduction. Winter squash (Cucurbita spp.) is an excellent dietary source of carotenoids. The range of colors from yellow to red in Cucurbita species indicates that increasing carotenoid levels through plant breeding is possible. The objective of this research was to determine the heritability of flesh color in winter squash in both Cucurbita moschata Duchesne and Cucurbita pepo L. Segregating families representing F2, BC1P1 and BC1P2 populations were created in two families of C. pepo (‘Table Gold Acorn’ × PI 314806 and ‘Table King Bush’ × PI 314806) and one family of C. moschata (‘Butterbush’ × ‘Sucrine DuBerry’). Broad-sense heritabilities were calculated for the F2, BC1P1, and BC1P2 populations within each of the three families. Heritabilities ranged from 0.19 to 0.82 for L*, 0.28 to 0.97 for chroma, and 0.12 to 0.87 for hue across all families. Transgressive segregation for color space values L* was identified in the ‘Table King Bush’ × PI 314806 C. pepo population. Our results indicate that it is possible to breed for improved flesh color in Cucurbita, but the population size and number of test locations for evaluation need to be increased to provide better heritability estimates. Cucurbita species are grown throughout the world and their availability and low price makes them an important potential source of carotenoids for human nutrition and health for all ages.

Open access

Kelly M. Gude, Eleni D. Pliakoni, Brianna Cunningham, Kanwal Ayub, Qing Kang, Channa B. Rajashekar, and Cary L. Rivard

The implementation of high tunnels has shown to increase marketability and/or yield of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) crops compared with open-field systems. These structures provide the opportunity to alter light intensity and spectral quality by using specific polyethylene (poly) films and/or shadecloth, which may affect microclimate and subsequent crop productivity. However, little is known about how specific high tunnel coverings affect these parameters. The overall goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of various high tunnel coverings on the microclimate and crop productivity of tomato and lettuce. The coverings included standard, ultraviolet (UV)-stabilized poly film (standard); diffuse poly (diffuse); full-spectrum clear poly (clear); UV-A/B blocking poly (block); standard + 55% shadecloth (shade); and removal of standard poly 2 weeks before initial harvest to simulate a movable tunnel (movable). Microclimate parameters that were observed included canopy and soil temperatures, canopy growing degree-days (GDD), and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), and crop productivity included yield and net photosynthetic rate. Hybrid red ‘BHN 589’ tomatoes were grown during the summer, and red ‘New Red Fire’ and green ‘Two Star’ leaf lettuce were grown in both spring and fall in 2017 and 2018. Increased temperature, GDD, and PAR were observed during the spring and summer compared with the fall. The soil temperatures during the summer increased more under the clear covering compared with the others. For tomato, the shade produced lower total fruit yield and net photosynthetic rate (Pn) compared with the other treatments, which were similar (P < 0.001 and <0.001, respectively). The greatest yield was 7.39 kg/plant, which was produced under the clear covering. For red leaf lettuce grown in the spring, the plants under the clear, standard, and diffuse coverings had significantly greater yield than the movable and shade coverings (P < 0.001). The coverings had less effect on the yield during the fall lettuce trials, which may have been attributed to the decrease in PAR and environmental temperatures. The findings of this study suggest that high tunnel coverings affect both microclimate and yield of lettuce and tomato.

Open access

Jules Janick and Harry Paris

In the first century CE, two Roman agricultural writers, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), referred to proto-greenhouses (specularia) constructed for the Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE–37 CE) presumably adjacent to his palace, the Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri. Pliny stated in Historia Naturalis (Book 19, 23:64) that the specularia consisted of beds mounted on wheels that were moved into the sun, and on wintry days withdrawn under the cover of frames glazed with transparent stone (lapis specularis) to provide fruits of cucumis. According to Pliny, this was “a delicacy for which the Emperor Tiberius, had a remarkable partiality; in fact there was never a day on which he was not supplied it.” The cucumis fruits described by Columella and Pliny, long mistranslated as cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, were in fact long-fruited melons, Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group. They are known today as vegetable melons, snake melons, and faqqous, and were highly esteemed in Rome and ancient Israel.

Open access

Krishna Nemali

Modern greenhouses are intensive farming systems designed to achieve high efficiency and productivity. Plants are produced year-round in greenhouses by maintaining the environment at or near optimum levels regardless of extreme weather conditions. Many scientific discoveries and technological advancements that happened in the past two centuries paved the way for current state-of-the-art greenhouses. These include, but are not limited to, advancements in climate-specific structural designs and glazing materials, and temperature control, artificial lighting, and hydroponic production systems. Greenhouse structures can be broadly grouped into four distinct designs, including tall Venlo greenhouses of the Netherlands, passive solar greenhouses of China, low-cost Parral greenhouses of the Mediterranean region, and gutter-connected polyethylene houses of India and African countries. These designs were developed to suit local climatic conditions and maximize the return on investment. Although glass and rigid plastic options are available for glazing, the development of low-cost and lightweight plastic glazing materials (e.g., polyethylene) enabled widespread growth of the greenhouse industry in the developing world. For temperate regions, supplemental lighting technology is crucial for year-round production. This heavily relies on advancements in electro-lighting during the 19th and 20th centuries. The development of hydroponic production systems for the controlled delivery of nutrients further enhanced crop productivity. This article addresses important historical events, scientific discoveries, and technological improvements related to advancements in these areas.

Open access

Cary A. Mitchell

The most recent platform for protected horticultural crop production, with the shortest history to date, is located entirely indoors, lacking even the benefit of free, natural sunlight. Although this may not sound offhand like a good idea for commercial specialty-crop production, the concept of indoor controlled-environment plant growth started originally for the benefit of researchers—to systematically investigate effects of specific environmental factors on plant growth and development in isolation from environmental factors varying in uncontrolled ways that would confound or change experimental findings. In addition to its value for basic and applied research, it soon was discovered that providing nonlimiting plant-growth environments greatly enhanced crop yield and enabled manipulation of plant development in ways that were never previously possible. As supporting technology for indoor crop production has improved in capability and efficiency, energy requirements have declined substantially for growing crops through entire production cycles in completely controlled environments, and this combination has spawned a new sector of the controlled-environment crop-production industry. This article chronicles the evolution of events, enabling technologies, and entrepreneurial efforts that have brought local, year-round indoor crop production to the forefront of public visibility and the threshold of profitability for a growing number of specialty crops in locations with seasonal climates.